The title of this book is wonderfully accurate. It really is the story of the entire season, and not just the baseball parts (although baseball fans wThe title of this book is wonderfully accurate. It really is the story of the entire season, and not just the baseball parts (although baseball fans won't be disappointed in the description of plays and pitches). But it is much more than a play-by-play of every game the Dodgers played in 1947; Eig paints a picture of the entire season and how it resonated throughout the country.
Eig's writing is so vivid, you can feel the emotion as Jackie walks into the clubhouse for the first time, as he takes the plate for the first time, as he faces both cruelty and kindness in cities and ballparks across the Major Leagues. He gives us profiles of people who were affected by Robinson's barrier-breaking, including author Robert B. Parker, civil rights leader Malcolm X, and future governor of Virginia Douglas Wilder. Although some of these profiles go on a bit too long, they contribute a lot to the sense of change that was in atmosphere in 1947.
Eig doesn't exactly soft-pedal the negative reactions from both within and without baseball that arose as a result of integration, but in some ways, he down-plays it a little bit. Some of Jackie's fellow Dodgers were opposed on principle to playing with a black man, but when he joined the team, they realized he was an ok guy and that integration probably wouldn't actually bring about the end of civilization as we know it. Somehow I don't think it was that easy....more
Almost everyone knows the story of Anne Frank. Far fewer people know the story of one of the men who hid her and her family from the Gestapo for 2 yeaAlmost everyone knows the story of Anne Frank. Far fewer people know the story of one of the men who hid her and her family from the Gestapo for 2 years. The mere fact of having his story of bravery be told makes this book worthwhile.
Victor Kugler's story shines brightest when told in his own voice. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen very often. Large portions of the book are taken from the notes of Eda Shapiro, who interviewed Kugler late in his life. This is fine, as far as it goes, but Shapiro's words are also used to give us historical background information on topics such as WWII and the history of Jews in Holland. Surely a more authoritative source could have been found for these subjects.
At least this historical background is interesting. Not so the rest of the book's padding, including descriptions of various dramatic and musical productions of Anne Frank's story that Kugler attended and his reaction to them, and descriptions awards and honors that Kugler was given, including his inclusion among the Righteous Gentiles at Yad Vashem, all well-deserved. I could have lived with a lot less of this extraneous material, especially since Kugler's story stands so well on its own.
FTC disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for this review....more
Some books that describe a particular place in vivid detail make you really want to visit that place. This is not one of those books. The lush descripSome books that describe a particular place in vivid detail make you really want to visit that place. This is not one of those books. The lush descriptions of the deadly flora and fauna of the rainforest made me perfectly happy to enjoy it all from a distance. But the same descriptions make Roosevelt and his fellow explorers very real, and gave me a good appreciation for the dangers they faced and the risks they took....more